September 17, 2012
OpenMedia original article
The Globe & Mail: Competition Bureau could step in to stop Bell's takeover
If the deal were to proceed, it would leave Bell Media with control of more than 100 radio stations and 90 television channels. But that is only part of the story – its competitors said during a week-long hearing before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that the bigger concern is Bell’s level of vertical integration, referring to the company’s ownership of both the content, such as TSN, and the infrastructure needed to deliver it into homes.
The deal would see Bell Media in control of many of the country’s top specialty channels – such as Astral’s HBO and The Movie Network – leaving competitors such as Rogers Communications Inc. and Quebecor Inc. concerned Bell will overcharge them to provide those services to their subscribers and cost them customers.
Bell says it needs to do the deal to keep the cost of content down for everyone, and to fend off an imminent onslaught of unregulated services such as Netflix which it says are an existential problem for every cable satellite company in the country.
“The benefits will flow from the execution of Bell’s strategic vision, a strategy built on unprecedented investment in Canada’s best content and on the world-class network infrastructure that will deliver it to Canadians on all four screens: TVs, laptops, smartphones and tablets, a strategy to increase choice for consumers in a very competitive marketplace,” BCE chief executive officer George Cope said on the first day of the hearing.
The CRTC said Friday it could take as long as 45 days before it decides whether the deal can proceed. The commission has several choices: it could say yes; say yes, with amendments; or reject the merger outright. The Competition Bureau has similar power, and operates independently from the CRTC. That means the deal could be killed even the broadcast regulator is satisfied it would improve Canada’s broadcast industry. Read more »
Read more at The Globe & Mail
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